Chapter Twenty one
What is the ecosystem narrative guiding human management of climate change and pandemics?
What can the world religions teach us about the coronavirus pandemic?
Most Christians have believed that God told Adam and Eve and their successors to dominate the earth. Most Christians believe that God not only gave permission to Adam and Eve but ordered them to subjugate Mother Nature to their needs, whims, and desires. It is written in the first book of the Jewish and Christian bible, Genesis:
Genesis 1:26-28 King James Version (KJV)
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Now with climate change brought about by human activity and the coronavirus infecting the people of the Earth we could cynically ask, “How is that dominion thing working out for ya?”
Most religions view the relationship of God, humans, and the Earth as God having given humans stewardship over nurturing and caring for the environment and ecosystems. However, how this stewardship is to be implemented varies a great deal from religious tradition to religious tradition.
All religions can be perceived as having a conservative group and a liberal group. In general it might be accurate to say that the conservative group is more favorable toward dominion and human superiority and destruction while the liberal group is more favorable to co-existence and equity and nurturance.
Unitarian Universalists embody their values in their seventh of seven principles which is “to affirm and promote a respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
The narratives of the world religions of homo sapiens ' relationship with the earth are thinly developed in our contemporary discussions which are saturated with technical, scientific jaron of meaning most of which is sequestered to the point of denial and minimization.
It is time to rejuvenate and explicate powerful stories about homo sapiens' relationship with Mother Nature. Instead of apocalyptic and dystopian movies and novels, religious leaders and theologians should step up and help us understand what is happening to us as a species not only on a biological, physical level, but at a moral and spiritual level.
It seems plausible that homo sapiens will study, better understand, and manage the coronavirus pandemic, but the social disruptions being caused by this pandemic will take generations to stabilize and the religions of the world can be a significant factor in promoting spiritual well being in these times of rapid change.